The bandwidth setting

The term bandwidth refers to the speed that you can send data to, or receive data from a Hangout. If you’re experiencing issues with the video or sound quality of your Hangout it could be because of a poor internet connection or because your computer’s speed may be a little slow. Adjusting the bandwidth setting can help in these situations.

When to use the bandwidth setting

The bandwidth setting is most useful when:

  • The video quality in the video call isn’t clear or if the video freezes at times.
  • The sound in the video call pauses or breaks up.
  • Your Internet connection is slow or limited.
  • You want to conserve your laptop's battery.
  • Your computer seems to run slowly while you’re in a Hangout
  • Your computer gets too hot or the fan gets too noisy.

How to use the bandwidth setting

To change your setting, simply drag the slider to another bandwidth setting. If your Hangout quality doesn’t improve, you may want to continue adjusting until you find the bandwidth setting that works best for you.

Your bandwidth selection will be saved for future Hangouts on the same network. For example, if the Internet connection at your favorite coffee shop is a bit slow, the next time you use Hangouts from that coffee shop, the same bandwidth selection you made before will be used.

The settings available in order from highest bandwidth to lowest bandwidth are:

Auto HD: This is the default mode for all users who are able to send HD video and will only be visible if your CPU has at least 4 logical cores. In this mode, Hangouts will automatically adjust your video quality depending on your bandwidth, up to the maximum HD level.

To send HD video, you’ll need:

  • An HD 720p capable camera
  • A CPU with at least four logical cores (for example an i5 with HyperThreading)
  • A network connection with at least a 1.2 Mbps upload speed (1.5 Mbps recommended)
  • To set your bandwidth setting to Auto HD.

Medium: This is the default mode for all users and is probably the best setting for people who don’t have HD. In this mode, Hangouts will use all available bandwidth to provide the best quality experience. Bandwidth used can be in excess of 1000 Kbps in each direction. 

Low: In this mode Hangouts will use less bandwidth to send and receive video. Bandwidth used will typically be approximately 500 Kbps in each direction.

Very low: In this mode, your upstream bandwidth usage will be further reduced by employing a visual effect that makes you look a bit like a pencil drawing. Bandwidth used will typically be approximately 150 Kbps upstream and 500 Kbps downstream.

Audio only: In this mode you will not send or receive any video or screen share. Hangouts will focus instead on giving you the best possible audio experience. Bandwidth used will typically be approximately 35 Kbps in each direction.

The bandwidth setting determines what type of video quality the user will send, but not what the other person receives. A user will receive HD video whenever it is available, regardless of the bandwidth setting.


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